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Santoor maestro excels

Wednesday, December 20, 2017
By Amarendra Dhaneshwar

The late Sharadchandra Arolkar was an unusual musician. He was often called a musician's musician. Reclusive by nature, he was engaged in his worship of music all his life. He remained single and lived in a world of his own which was ruled by the old world values and principles.

Arolkar had great vision and an inner eye which perceived the grandeur of the 'Khyal' form of music and its original beauty. He belonged to the purest of the pure classical 'Khyal' tradition and applied his own aesthetic touch to the 'gayaki' which he inherited from his gurus like Krishnarao Pandit, Eknath Pandit and Krishnarao Muley. His memory is kept alive by 'Khayal Trust' which holds an annual music festival dedicated to him. This year it was held in the spacious and swanky Savarkar Smarak Auditorium at Shivaji Park.

Bharathi Prathap, a Banglore-based classical singer is now the emerging star of the Agra gharana. She is a pupil of Lalith Rao and the late Ramarao Naik, both stalwarts of the Agra gharana. Bharathi is hardly in her 40s. There is something fresh about her voice, her musical personality and her sense of presentation. She could establish an instant connection with the sizable audience. She sang the raga 'Bhoopali' which was sweet to the ears. One could see the impress of her mentor Lalith Rao in her raga elaboration. The mild 'layakari' which she got into was like a conscious understatement. It made her music as unobtrusive as it was pleasing. She followed up with a 'Bandishi thumri' in the raga 'Khamaj' . It is a typical Agra gharana composition with all its nuances. One has heard it many times over from veterans of the Agra gharana like Khadim Hussian Khan and Dinkar Kaikini. Bharathi Prathap did full justice to it. Aditya Narayan Bannerjee on the tabla and Anant Joshi on the harmonium lent superb support.

Neela Bhagwat, senior Gwalior gharana exponent and a devoted pupil of Arolkarbuwa, sang the beautiful compound raga 'Shankara Bihag'. It was her 75th birthday performance and a fitting tribute to her guru. She also sang a soulful 'thumree' in the raga 'Mand Jogiya'. Abhay Datar on the tabla and Farooque Latif on the sanrangi added colour to her presentation.

Tarun Bhattacharya, the santoor maestro from Calcutta was in his elements as he unfolded the raga 'Jansammohini'. This raga from Carnatic music was adapted to the Hindustani system by the great Ravi Shankar who has coached Tarun. Full of subtle play with rhythm, Tarun kept us mesmerised with his performance which was livened up by some active and forceful tabla sangat by Prodyut Mukherjee from Calcutta.

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